Rangers-Defining a Club Ethos
- 04 January 2013
The Rangers family are hardened survivors. On match day, Ibrox is buzzing with a tangible appreciation of being able to watch our team play, stemming from the knowledge that we so nearly had this taken from us.
I’ve even enjoyed watching the opposition teams, for without whom, a game of football would be impossible. So a special thanks to the SFL teams who took us in, and offered us shelter, in our time of need.
The 140th anniversary celebrations at Ibrox were especially poignant. John Greig walking onto the pitch was a special moment. It was a time for remembering past glories and absent friends. Some real Rangers legends were out there that day; and I include amongst them, both our Manager and our Captain.
We can never win over the extremists aligned against us. We can, however, hope to positively influence the neutrals and moderates.
On this basis, I think it appropriate for the fans to at least discuss the possibility of developing a ‘Club Ethos’ in conjunction with the Club. The objective being to define how all within the entire Rangers family should act: including Club staff, players, fans at games, meeting in public and posting on line (altogether, the Team); based on a common set of values and standards codified in a Rangers Charter.
By defining in our own words what it means to be a Ranger, it would deny others the opportunity to stereotype us negatively to suit their own ends. A successfully implemented set of values and standards would bind us together, and act as a suit of armour to protect us from incessant sniping and attack.
Values and standards can help develop an ethos which could, in turn, promote the Club positively to a wider audience, including much needed Corporate Sponsors essential to ensure continuing growth and development of the Club.
I appreciate it will be difficult to reach common ground and consensus between all members of the Rangers family. However, I’m hopeful that most would be able to agree to comply with our values and standards.
Values and Standards
If we are to define a set of values and standards, what should our foundation be? I’d prefer for values based on principles such as freedom, liberty and equality. The same foundations as many countries, including the UK, the USA, Canada, and other nations whose founding fathers come from a proud Scots and/or Ulster-Scots background.
I did consider proposing values founded directly upon religious teachings, but in the modern world, there are so many people, of different faiths, and no faith, how do you reach agreement? I’d like to propose the following values and standards, as a medium to start a discussion, and see if there is enthusiasm within the Rangers family for a defined Rangers Charter.
I hope there is agreement, for the advantages are compelling: helping protect and strengthen the Club, whilst thwarting our detractors. The following is loosely based on the values and standards of the British Army, an organisation that, like Rangers, had a relatively narrow cultural mix but has modernised and evolved. It now takes people from all walks of life and binds them into one strong team. Like the British Army, we, as Rangers fans, need to ‘Be the Best’.
Proposed Rangers Values and Standards
Our values and standards should be the lifeblood that sustains us. They have to be more that just words, we must believe in them and aspire to live by them.
Managers (such as the great Bill Struth) create an ethos for the team and ensure values and standards are at the centre of it through personal example. Values are about character and spirit while standards define our actions and behaviour.
The reputation of Rangers Football Club needs to be protected. We have a tradition of excellence born of footballing achievement and high standards of professionalism, individual behaviour and self-discipline on and off the park. These qualities cannot be taken for granted and are only maintained if they are underpinned by a robust and clearly understood framework of values and standards. It requires all of us to understand and live by them. Prominent people associated with Rangers need to demonstrate leadership when it comes to this issue.
Rangers are not immune from changes in society therefore we must explain why our values and standards are more demanding of the individual than those found at other Clubs.
Rangers values and standards are not abstract concepts whose origins lie solely in the demands of a game. Values are the moral principles – the intangible character and spirit that should guide and develop each and every Ranger and define the sort of people we should be. Standards are the authoritative yardsticks that define how we behave and on which we judge and measure that behaviour. They reflect, and are consistent with, the moral virtues and ethical principles that underpin any decent society. It is important that they are explained within this wider context, for it is vital that all Rangers are able to apply them in today’s complex world. To that end, the articulation of these values and standards needs to be accompanied by continuous and appropriate examples. They apply at all times, whether on or off the field of play, and to all members of the Team.
For Rangers, the consequences of winning or losing are profound. The team is judged and measured by success it is able to secure on the pitch. Emphasis is laid on the ability to get people to play well, with flair, imagination, vision, and, above all, a determination to win that is stronger than the will of the opposition.
Players are required to perform before large crowds. They are part of a team, and the effectiveness of that team depends on each individual playing his or her part to the full. Success depends above all else on good morale, which is the spirit that enables players to triumph over adversity. This is reinforced by discipline.
Morale consists of many factors, including confidence in equipment and facilities, good training and sound administration. But ultimately it is the confidence between management and players and between individual players that is vital. Such confidence is a product of hard work off the field, physical and mental preparation, good leadership and comradeship. Morale cannot be created overnight but requires the forging of bonds of professional and personal trust which will withstand the stresses imposed by the demands of playing at the highest level. It requires a commitment to put the interests of the team and the task ahead of one’s own.
Values and standards have functional utility. Upholding them is the collective responsibility of everyone associated with Rangers. They are the foundations of teamwork, and are interdependent. If any one of them is lacking, the chances of success are threatened. They are fostered and enhanced by good leadership, training and man-management.
Values - Courage
All players must be prepared risk injury in the course of play, and be sufficiently prepared to carry out all actions with determination; this will occasionally require physical courage. Players will depend on each other for this with the support of the fans attending the game.
Moral courage is equally important. This is the courage to do whatever is right even when it may be unpopular or risk ridicule, and to insist on maintaining the highest standards of decency and behaviour at all times. This includes rejecting all forms of performance enhancing drugs or other form of unsporting advantage.
Courage (both physical and moral) creates the strength upon which sustainable playing spirit and success depends. It is a quality needed by every Ranger, but it is especially important for the players, because others will depend on their lead and respond to it.
Values – Discipline
To be effective on the field of play, Rangers must act as a disciplined force. Managers instructions must be carried out with everybody confident that they will not be let down by their teammates. By extension, this also includes individual supporters. Discipline is supported by team loyalty, trust and professionalism. Discipline instils self-control and breeds self-confidence.
Good discipline means that all members of the Team will follow key instructions, even under difficult conditions, and to do so with imagination and resource. The best discipline is self-discipline: innate, not imposed. The Club expects self-discipline from every Ranger. Discipline requires clearly understood rules and a fair means to enforce it. This discipline system must be fairly applied both on and of the park.
Values – Integrity
Integrity has a unique significance to the Club. It is essential to trust because players must have complete trust in each of their teammates, the management of the Club and the support. Integrity means being honest and truthful. All forms of deceit and dishonesty constitute a lack of integrity: they call into question whether an individual can be relied upon and damage the team. A leader’s example in personal behaviour is vital, and this responsibility increases with seniority.
Values - Loyalty
Loyalty binds the Rangers family together: it turns individuals into teams, creating and strengthening the entirety of Rangers Football Club. The Club relies on the continuing allegiance and support of all employees and fans. Equally important is the Club’s loyalty to these same individuals. Players and fans should be treated fairly and reasonably and consideration should be given to their collective wishes and aspirations within the strict fiscal parameters necessary for any business to thrive. This could include fan representation on the Board of Directors.
Being loyal to the Team does not mean that wrong-doing should be condoned or covered up; this is misplaced loyalty and questions a Ranger’s integrity. Loyalty must be earned through commitment, self-sacrifice, courage, professionalism, decency and integrity-these are enduring characteristics.
Values – Respect for Others
Respect for others should be a hallmark of Rangers Football Club and it means there is no place for prejudice or favouritism. Like loyalty, respect should be a fundamental principle, particularly when dealing with fellow fans or Club employees. The Club’s motto ‘Ready’ can only have meaning if there is equality of treatment and opportunity.
Respect for others also extends to those we defeat. We should be magnanimous in victory. Clapping our opponents from the pitch is a polite and appropriate ‘thank you for the game’. Without opponents, we have no game.
All Rangers must act within the law and with reference to the nature of modern, complex, multicultural society. External scrutiny, including intense media interest, is now a part of footballing life. Playing for and supporting Rangers is about duty: so every Ranger should be ready to uphold the rights of others before claiming their own.
The values outlined above should underpin the ethos of the Club and can contribute directly to future success. The Club’s standards are designed to ensure that all behaviour is lawful, appropriate, and totally professional. All Rangers people must avoid behaviour that risks jeopardising the Club’s chances of success or which may undermine morale by damaging the trust and respect that exists between individuals.
For this reason, the Club takes a demanding approach towards certain types of behaviour, in particular, behaviour which is sectarian in nature.
The Club acknowledges its links to the Presbyterian, Unionist and Loyalist communities, who provided the backbone of the fan base. However it is now over 20 years since Rangers signed ‘Mo Johnston’; and since that time the Team has patently comprised people of many faiths, and will continue to do so in the future.
The Club is not a religious group, and has no strong bias towards one faith over another. We look to TBO/UB in particular to develop and lead songs to support Rangers, without offending people of no faith or peoples of differing faiths. This would not preclude the singing of songs in remembrance of past conflicts, battles and struggles, where freedom and liberty were being defended. However as a measure of acceptability, these should be no more offensive than, for example, the national anthem of Scotland, France or Russia.
Rangers is founded upon the principles of freedom, equality, liberty, justice, and sporting integrity. These principles can be found across the free world due, in part, to the founding fathers of many western democracies being of Scots or Ulster-Scots origin. We should be proud to treat all people as equals. The world is free today because our fore-fathers fought and, in some cases died, to defend these freedoms. Members of the Rangers family continue to fight in defence of our freedoms. We will not tarnish their memory by treating anyone unfairly or unreasonably.
However, in recognition of attacks the Club have recently suffered, we will also protect and promote freedom of thought and expression, for these are important in any civilised society.
Standards – Lawful
All members of the Rangers family (the Team) are subject to the law. No one is above the law, and you have a duty to comply with the word and spirit of the law. Such laws establish the baseline for the standards of personal conduct of each member of the Rangers family.
All Rangers staff, players and fans have the right to live and work in an environment free from harassment, unlawful discrimination and intimidation. Any unjustified behaviour that results in any member of the Rangers family, or wider footballing community being unfairly treated is fundamentally incompatible with the ethos of the Club, and is not to be tolerated. Discrimination or harassment undermines trust and confidence, especially in those in positions of authority.
The abuse of authority to intimidate or victimise others is unacceptable and will undermine trust and respect. It is also illegal. It is the responsibility of leaders to protect others from abuse, and to deal with it promptly.
Standards – Appropriate Behaviour
It is important to acknowledge the need for mutual respect and the requirement to avoid conduct that offends others. The Club wishes to take this opportunity to re-iterate our dislike for sectarian singing or the posting online of opinions that are patently offensive.
The Club acknowledges that for many years, the dominant anthem sung by Rangers fans was ‘The Billy Boys’ and that this and other fans favourites have now been outlawed. The singing of such could render the individual liable to criminal prosecution and the club liable to footballing sanctions and punishments.
The Club will endeavour to negotiate with the authorities to reach a fair and amicable agreement on wording that will allow these much loved anthems to return, in a style that is both legal and fully in accordance with our values and standards.
The Club’s values and standards demand a degree of commitment and self-sacrifice from every member of the Rangers Family. It is hoped that all will commit them to achieving and maintaining these values and standards. This commitment is essential to the ethos of the Club moving forward and contributes directly to our collective success. We all have a role to play in ensuring Rangers Football Club is the very best it can be.
Colin Foster is a shareholder and season ticket holder. Several generations of his family have supported Rangers and had connections with shipbuilding and engineering. He is an active member of the Church of Scotland.